Last month I signed a Statutory Instrument (SI) to amend the 1986 Public Order Act. This changed the law to provide a clearer definition of ‘serious disruption’ to empower the police to end Just Stop Oil’s slow marching protests, which have caused misery to the hardworking public.
Before I signed the SI, 156 of these highly disruptive protests had taken place in London between April and June. This was unacceptable. It brought traffic to a halt, preventing the public from commuting to work or getting to hospital appointments, and distracted the police away from tackling serious crime. I am pleased that this will no longer be tolerated.
People are sick of these recurring disruptions to their lives, and I think it is right that the Government has acted to bring an end to the nuisance that is slow marching. The right to protest must always be protected, but it must be balanced with everyone else’s right to go about their daily lives. In using these tactics, Just Stop Oil alone has cost the police over £5.9 million and wasted around 13,700 police shifts that could have been spent tackling serious crime.
The impact of the change of law has been immediate and very successful. Yesterday, the Metropolitan Police responded to Just Stop Oil’s slow marching on the road at Tower Bridge, Clapham High Street and several other places in London. Each group was swiftly dealt with by police using their newly enhanced powers, and I am delighted that Just Stop Oil protestors are now being cleared from the streets within 4.9 minutes on average. It is fantastic to see that the police are now using the powers at their disposal to minimise disruption to our daily lives.